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Express your love and support for loved ones going through a tough time.
It’s never easy to comfort someone who is grieving, whether they’ve lost a family member or even a beloved pet. It all depends on the person, too. Small gestures like calling, sending food, or just simply being with them are some of the best ways to express your love and care.
“The best way to support someone dear who is grieving is to look around for what needs to be done,” says Jodi R.R. Smith, an etiquette consultant and author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman. She also recommends offering a few different options and allow the person to choose which they prefer. Ask questions like “Would you like me to bring you dinner, to come to my house, or to go out somewhere?” to see what their specific needs are.
For this gift guide, we found the best sympathy gifts that show you care. In addition to Smith, we consulted Genevieve Dreizen, COO and co-founder of Fresh Starts Registry.
Memorialight Crystal Suncatcher
Share the glimmers of a rainbow with the Memorialight Crystal Suncatcher. The small crystal prism is attached to a long 18-inch silver chain that you can hang near a window to catch the sunlight and disperse rainbows throughout the room it's in. It comes in a nice box and includes a card with an uplifting message. But if you want to make it more personal, feel free to add a note in your own words at no extra cost.
Price at time of publish: $36
UnHide Marshmallow Blanket
Sleeping inside the UnHide Marshmallow blanket is like being wrapped up in a warm, comforting hug—a reassuring gesture for people who are feeling a bit down. Although it’s not as heavy as a weighted blanket, the faux fur has enough weight to keep them warm and cozy. The 60 by 80-inch size is equivalent to a queen-size blanket, so they can keep it in their bedroom for an extra layer of warmth or indulge in the fuzziness on their living room couch. The blanket is available in a dozen colors including rose, beige, emerald, and charcoal.
Price at time of publish: $249
Harry & David Thinking of You Gift Basket
If you can’t think of a specific gift to give, the Harry & David Thinking of You Gift Basket features an assortment of appetizing goodies for sweet and savory cravings. The treats can easily feed an entire family and includes snacks like caramel popcorn, cheese and crackers, a chocolate cake, baklava, and gummies, to name a few. While it doesn’t include a card for you to send a message, the baskets do have a sweet “Thinking of You” removable sticker at the front.
Price at time of publish: $80
Quince Mongolian Cashmere Robe
Made from 100-percent Mongolian cashmere, this kimono-style robe from Quince is an intimate comfort gift for those you care about most. Compared to wool, cashmere is softer and warmer, making the robe feel uber-luxurious and perfect for lounging all day. The long length makes it extra cozy and the two oversized pockets can house the tissues that may be needed throughout the day. Choose from four colors (oatmeal, black, ivory, and gray) and sizes from XS to XL.
Price at time of publish: $170
Notes on Grief
Knowing others have gone through the same experience can be comforting in itself. In her book Notes on Grief, bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about the sense of loss she felt when her father died of kidney complications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her raw, poignant words are both a tribute to her father and a comforting read for anyone who is coping with the death of a loved one.
Price at time of publish: $16
Headspace Meditation App Subscription
Not only does meditation reduce stress and anxiety, it can also improve focus and help them sleep better at night. Headspace offers guided meditations that are great for beginners as well as those who are already familiar with the practice. You can buy a three-month or one-year subscription for your loved one that they can access at their convenience. You can also add your own message to give it a personal touch.
Price at time of publish: $39 for a 3-month subscription
Aura Mason Digital Picture Frame
If you’re looking for a novel gift that your loved one will cherish, we recommend the Aura Mason Digital Frame, which displays a carousel of pictures right from your phone. The frame can also be a collaborative project—just send an e-invite to others to upload their photos to the frame as well. The frame needs a Wi-Fi connection for it to work, but once you have it, just download the app to start uploading photos and video (30 second limit) to the frame.
Price at time of publish: $199
The Grief Companion Card Deck
The Grief Companion Deck is a self-healing tool that curates positive affirmations and advice to help as someone navigates their grief. There are 54 cards in all, and each card is either an insight, a prompt, or an action to uplift the mind and soul. For instance, a card might ask someone to create a daily schedule or share self-care tips. There is no right or wrong way to use the cards, so they have the freedom to follow the cards in a set order or pick randomly.
Price at time of publish: $20
Wolferman’s Bakery Deluxe Sympathy Basket
This Wolferman’s Bakery Deluxe Sympathy Basket is filled with carb-y goodness, and is ideal for anyone who needs a breakfast pick-me-up (or a snack any time of day). It contains several types of English muffins (cinnamon raisin and plain) and fruit preserves to go with it, along with coffee, cinnamon rolls, apple cake, and a blueberry scone. Plus, it’s all gorgeously presented in a woven seagrass basket to complete the package.
Price at time of publish: $90
Handy One-Time Cleaning
For those who are coping with loss, everyday tasks like keeping their home clean can feel impossible. If you know someone who’s feeling sad and overwhelmed, a three-hour Home Cleaning Gift from House Handy could be a welcome surprise. All professional cleaners are pre-screened and vetted to ensure you’re working with a quality cleaner. Bookings are also flexible and can be rescheduled at any time if necessary, online and through their app. If one cleaning isn't enough, you can always opt for multiple cleaning packages.
Price at time of publish: $99
Silk and Sonder Journaling Essentials Gift Box
For anyone who needs to reflect, organize their minds, or get a fresh start, journaling is one of the best self-care methods they can do. This beautifully designed Journal Essentials Gift Box from Silk and Sonder offers activities like mood trackers, habit trackers, sleep trackers, meal planners, and gratitude logs to work through the healing process. It also comes with a tassel keychain and a keepsake box for storage. Plus, all journals from Silk and Sonder automatically come with a companion app that they can download to their phone.
Price at time of publish: $65
Wax On Fire Condolences Memorial Gift Candle
If you’re looking for an affordable gift, this soy wax Memorial Candle starts at $18 and comes in 4-ounce, 9-ounce, and 16-ounce sizes. What’s special about this candle is that it has a touching poem printed on the front, along with a customized name as a memorial tribute. It’s available in over 20 scents, including fresh coffee, eucalyptus breeze, and citronella, just to name a few. If you’re unsure of which scent to choose, you can let the company choose a scent for you.
Price at time of publish: From $18
Magnolia Bakery Best of Magnolia Bakery Small Sampler Pack
For people who may find comfort in a sweet treat, the Best of Magnolia Bakery Sampler Pack features Magnolia’s famous banana pudding and frosted cupcakes. We can confirm that the banana pudding is lush and creamy with chunky banana pieces and pound cake crumbles inside. You can buy a small set that comes with two large banana pudding cups and two cupcakes, or a family-sized option with four banana puddings and six cupcakes.
Price at time of publish: From $45
Untie The Bow Gifts Sympathy Gift Box
For anyone going through a hard time, this handmade sympathy gift box from Etsy is an excellent way to show how much you care. There are nine types of boxes to choose from, each featuring a different combination of journals, blankets, succulents, sweets, mugs, candles, tumblers, and more. You also can choose greeting cards with themes like “Thinking of You,” “Sending Hugs.” and “Sending Prayers,” along with a personalized message. The only downside with this set is that you can’t make a custom gift box.
Price at time of publish: From $48
Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving
Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving is a UK bestseller by British author and grief psychotherapist Julia Samuel. She shares a collection of case studies of people who have lost spouses, parents, siblings, and children and how they were able to heal. Her book is meant to inspire and emphasize the fact that healing is possible after the passing of a loved one. The book is available in hardcover and paperback versions.
Price at time of publish: $19
Hello Adorn Tiny Heart Necklace
The handmade Tiny Heart Necklace from Hello Adorn features a tiny heart charm on a dainty chain for a delicate gift that can be worn every day. It’s available in 14-karat gold fill and sterling silver versions. You can also build a full set with a pair of twist earrings or heart studs to match. Although it is waterproof, the brand says it’s best not to expose it to moisture for long periods of time.
Price at time of publish: $40
Spoonful of Comfort Sympathy Soup Gift Basket
The days and weeks after a funeral are sad and difficult, and it’s common to not have the energy to cook. Spoonful of Comfort’s Sympathy Soup Gift consists of two 32 ounces of soup or mac and cheese, which is enough for four to six servings. Plus, it comes with bread rolls and cookies to round off the meal. There are a variety of soups to choose from, including chicken noodle and vegetable soup options, as well as vegan and gluten-free soups. The brand also offers special add-ons, such as comfort socks or a throw, to make the package feel extra comforting. We like that you can also add a caring note that will be included in the package.
Price at time of publish: From $100
Grief, Grace, and Healing: Oracle Deck and Guidebook
Because healing from grief takes time, the Grief, Grace, and Healing Oracle Deck and Guidebook guides people through the mourning process at their own pace. The set comes with a deck of 64 cards, which contain motivational messages, self-care rituals, and affirmations, as well as a guidebook to write down reflections. If you know someone who’s feeling sad over the passing of a loved one, divorce, job loss, or other life-changing events—this is a pick we recommend.
Price at time of publish: $19
Gorjana Power Gemstone Tatum Bracelet
If you want to show someone close to you that you are thinking of them, we suggest the Power Gemstone Tatum Bracelet. The 18K gold-plated bracelet features reconstituted gemstones, such as turquoise, amethyst, black onyx, and quartz, that are known to bring vibes of healing, love, good energy, tranquility, and protection to the person wearing them. The bracelet is adjustable, so you don’t have to worry too much about knowing their exact wrist size; at its longest, the bracelet measures 9.25 inches.
Price at time of publish: $45
Seamless Gift Card
If your love language is food, consider giving a Seamless Gift Card that allows your loved ones to order delivery or pickup from their preferred restaurants. Choose any amount of money to put on the card, and then give them either a physical or digital version with (or without) a personalized message. The cards do not expire, so they can use them anytime they want.
Price at time of publish: From $10
Gourmet Gift Baskets Dried Fruit and Nut Platter
Send a healthy snack to remind your loved ones that you’re thinking of them, plus offer some nutrition at the same time. This Gourmet Gifts Dried Fruit and Nut Platter consists of kosher-dried fruits like apple rings, Angelino plums (our favorite), pineapple rings, apricots, and dates. It also includes no-salt trail mixes and a dried fruit and nut medley that are beautifully arranged on a wooden platter. You can personalize this gift by sending a greeting card with a photo or image (optional) to accompany the platter.
Price at time of publish: $60
Challah Back Girls Challah Back Babka Bites
Show your condolences to those in mourning with a batch of these freshly baked babka bites from Challah Back Girls. They’d make especially good gifts for those in the early days of grief when it’s hard for some people to eat. Each gift box consists of three cinnamon and three chocolate challah dough balls with cake crumbs and chocolate chips. You can buy it as a one-time purchase or sign up for a weekly or bi-monthly subscription. Besides the babka bites, the company offers plenty of other light, delicious, and sweet challah dough desserts in different flavors.
Price at time of publish: $18
True Tea Hotel Ceramics Tumbler + Tea Gift Set
Calm your loved one’s mind, body, and soul with the True Tea Hotel Ceramics and Tumbler Tea Set. This set features a handmade 12-ounce ceramic tumbler from Hotel Ceramics and one of True Teas's line of organic specialty teas. You can choose from classics like earl gray and green tea or opt for a lighter hibiscus variety.
Price at time of publish: $64
Boarderie Diletto Cheese & Charcuterie Board
The Boaderie’s Diletto Cheese & Charcuterie board offers hearty nibbles and treats to snack on throughout the day. The board’s platter is extensive and caters to sweet, savory, and umami palates. It comes with a range of artisanal cheeses (like Fig & Rose Goat Cheese), as well as an assortment of meat, mixed nuts, Turkish figs, and olives. It also comes with natural bamboo cutlery. Because the boards are freshly made daily by Boaderie chefs, they must be kept refrigerated. The medium platter serves up to five people, but small and large sizes are also available to order.
Price at time of publish: From $129
Baloo Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket like the Baloo Weighted Blanket may be just the thing that a grieving family member or friend can appreciate. Available in four colors, this luxury quilted blanket is made from 100-percent cotton inside and outside. Instead of synthetic fillers, it is filled with glass beads to give it added weight—but, despite the heft, it's cool enough to be used year-round. The blanket is available in four sizes: a 12-pound throw, a 15-pound light queen, a 20-pound heavy queen, and a 25-pound king size.
Price at time of publish: From $179
Mouth All the Snacks Gift Box
When going to the grocery store feels like a monumental task, having a good variety of snacks is immensely helpful. Mouth's All the Snacks Gift Box is good to keep nearby for your loved ones who crave sweet or savory treats. It’s curated with chips, cookies, nuts, crackers, popcorn, and peanut butter bars from small-batch brands in the United States. Mouth also includes its own in-house triple ginger cookies and organic gummies to complete the gift box.
Price at time of publish: $182
Framebridge The #1 Gift: 10x12 Frame
Framebridge offers custom framing services for photos, kids’ artwork, documents, textiles, jerseys, and more. It’s a beautiful way to honor a loved one’s memory. The #1 Gift comes in 12 different styles and colors, ranging from a timeless matte black to bolder choices like coral red. The company will even send you secure packaging that can be used to send the item or artwork you want framed—free of charge. All frames will be shipped in a classic olive box and a bow to make the gift feel extra special.
Price at time of publish: $75
Tropical Fruit Box Taste the Exotics Fruit Gift Box
This tropical fruit board is an alternative to traditional snack baskets, flowers, and even fruit baskets consisting of everyday fruits. We’re most impressed by the interesting and immune-boosting fruit options that are native to the Caribbean and South America. Instead of apples and oranges, it features different options like pink glow pineapple, guava, guinep (Spanish limes), rambutan, soursop, dragonfruit, and passion fruit. Just keep in mind that fruit options are seasonal, so the box will change depending on the time of year you order. You can also create your own custom fruit box if you want it filled with specific fruits.
Price at time of publish: $149
Love Talla The Sun & Moon Fingerprint Necklace
The Sun and Moon Fingerprint Necklace is a beautiful and unique way to commemorate loved ones with their fingerprints. You can have up to four fingerprints featured on a yellow gold, silver, or rose gold chain. The necklace is available in four different lengths, ranging from 16 to 24 inches, and for $10, you can have a short personal message (two lines max) engraved on the back.
Price at the time of publish: From $299
New York Public Library Dedicate a NYPL Bookplate
Forever honor your loved ones by dedicating a book from the New York Public Library in their name with a donation of at least $50. The library will print your loved one’s name inside a book with an inspiring message on their behalf. Just note that you won’t be able to dedicate specific book titles in their name and you won’t actually know which book the nameplate was inserted in. However, you can download the actual nameplate card or send an e-copy for family and friends to see.
Price at time of publish: From $50
Tea Fiori Bath Tea Kit
While the benefits of drinking tea are widely known, did you know that soaking in it is also a great way to absorb those same benefits? The Tea Fiori Bath Tea Kit features two organza silk pouches that contain a relaxing blend of herbs, flowers, and fruit like apple pieces, silver linden tree blossoms, lemon balm, rose petals, and lavender. This kit makes a thoughtful self-care gift for those who might be carrying a lot of tension, and there is enough tea for four baths.
Price at time of publish: $40
Wearwell The Cropped Sweatshirt
The Wearwell Cropped Sweatshirt provides casual comfort for the days they just want to stay home and chill. The fabric features ribbed cuffs and is made out of a soft and luxurious French terry blend. We like that it is size-inclusive and available in XS to 5X sizes. It comes in four colors: plum, onyx, midnight, and thyme. Side note: Wearwell members can purchase this sweatshirt at a discount.
Price at time of publish: $88
Baabushka Wool Slipper
Made from felted sheep’s wool, these handcrafted Baabushka Wool Slippers will provide comfort in every step. As a natural, breathable material, wool shoes can be worn during warm and cold seasons. The shape also hugs the heel to keep it in place, for the coziest fit and feel. The shoes are available in ten colors including red, merlot, and gray. Due to the natural materials, these shoes are spot-clean only and cannot be thrown in the washer. The company also sells wool booties, if you’re looking for more coverage.
Price at time of publish: $74
Wishbar Sympathy Cards
Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to express to someone who has just lost someone special in their lives. The Wishbar Sympathy Cards are intended to make the expression a little easier by offering sympathy cards with customizable template messages. Wishbar recommends cards for you based on your relationship with the person (casual, close, and cherish). After selecting the card you want, you can choose a message or send a message of your own that will be handwritten by the Wishbar team. Shipping is free and the price includes the price of postage stamps.
Price at time of publish: $12
Egunsi Foods Introductory Bundle West African Soups
These ready-to-eat West African soups are the brainchild of Nigeria-born entrepreneur Yemisi Awosan, who created the suits based on traditional recipes she grew up on in Nigeria. These 100-percent vegan and gluten-free soups are an ideal gift for anyone who needs a quick, nourishing meal. This soup set comes in four flavors: a West African-inspired tomato soup, egusi or melon seed soup, groundnut (peanut) soup, and brown-eyed peas soup. They also can be used as a velvety sauce base for other foods. You have the option of buying them alone or as part of a subscription service.
Price at time of publish: $70
Esker Terracotta Plantable Candle
If you want to give a gift that literally keeps on giving, consider getting the Esker Plantable Candle. This aromatherapy candle features a light floral scent that can burn up to 75 hours. When it’s done, use the included packet seeds to transform the jar into a micro herb garden of lemon balm, which is associated with reduced anxiety.
Price at time of publish: $85
Cometeer Coffee Gift Box
The Cometeer Coffee Gift Box makes coffee a quick and easy task. The capsules only use premium beans that are brewed and flash-frozen for an incredibly fresh taste. Just pop the capsule in a mug of hot water and enjoy a delicious cup of hot or iced coffee. Each box comes with four flavors and can make up 32 cups of coffee. If you feel really generous, opt for a monthly subscription for regular coffee deliveries.
Price at time of publish: $79
Questions You Might Ask
Should I put a gift in a sympathy card?
For an etiquette consultant Jodi R.R. Smith, sympathy cards should be what they is meant to be—a card. “If you have a fond or memorable story about the deceased, you can include that along with your condolences,” she says.
Smith also recommends that if you would like to do something extra, you can include donations to specific charities, philanthropies, organizations, and educational institutions inside the card in the name of the loved one. But, she cautions that people should be careful to respect the wishes of the mourners when donating in someone’s memory. She also adds: “If you have a picture of the deceased that is suitable for public viewing, especially if it is one of them enjoying life, most mourners welcome photographs.”
What can I put in a sympathy gift basket?
It’s important to think of who you’re giving the gift basket to when putting one together as a sympathy gift. “You can't always give the same gift, as people have different lifestyles. For example, you may not want to give candles to someone with small children, or cheese to someone allergic to dairy,” says Genevieve Dreizen, COO and co-founder of Fresh Starts Registry and modern-day etiquette expert.
She recommends sticking to the basics when it comes to a sympathy gift basket. “A soft blanket, or oversized throw, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, a new oversized mug, and something sweet that they can eat, like cookies or brownies are all good options,” she says. “Throw in a gift card to their favorite eatery or DoorDash, too.”
What should you not give someone as a sympathy gift?
“You should never give a sympathy gift that is going to be a burden for the other person to handle,” says Dreizen. “So, we don't recommend giving plants to anyone who is grieving, as they may not have the energy to take care of a plant, and it will only make them feel worse (and probably shame), if the plant dies.” Pets are also not a recommended gift. “It may seem sweet to think of giving a puppy or kitty to a friend who had a loss, but the last thing they need is something else to take care of,” she says.
Smith has a different take when it comes to sympathy gifts people should avoid giving. “It is difficult to say 'never' without knowing the situation,” she says. “When in doubt, don’t. Better to ask someone in the mourner’s circle to ensure your gift will be a welcome one.”
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Nor’adila Hepburn, a contributing writer for Real Simple. To find the best sympathy gifts, she researched a host of sympathy gifts that appeal to different personalities. For expert advice, she turned to the etiquette experts: Genevieve Dreizen, COO and co-founder of Fresh Starts Registry, and Jodi R.R. Smith, an etiquette consultant and author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman.
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Read the original article on Real Simple.